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Active Isolated Stretching & Strengthening: The Mattes Method


About AIS

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a stretching technique that has been created and perfected by Aaron Mattes in the USA, over the past 40 years. Active Isolated Stretching is one of the methods most used by today’s athletes, massage therapists, personal / athletic trainers and professionals. Active Isolated Stretching allows the body to repair itself and also to prepare for daily activity. The AIS technique involves the method of holding each stretch for no more than 2 seconds. This method of stretching is also known to work with the body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle, joints and fascia.


The Active Isolated Stretching method of muscle lengthening and fascial release is a type of Athletic Stretching Technique that provides effective, dynamic, facilitated stretching of major muscle groups, but more importantly AIS provides functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes. This technique can be used to treat people of all ages & from all walks of life, helping to improve their flexibility, general well-being & quality of life.


Many experts advocate that stretching should last up to 60 seconds. However, prolonged static stretching, which has long been the gold standard in athletics, actually decreases the blood flow within the tissues, creating localized ischemia & lactic acid build up. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendonous, lymphatic, as well as neural tissues, similar to the effects & consequences of trauma & overuse syndromes.


A.I.S: The Mattes Method follows a simple physiological protocol

  • Identification of the muscles & supportive connective tissues.

  • Isolate the muscle in the most relaxed state.

  • Continue gradual gentle stretch with less than 1 lb. of pressure towards the end of point range, providing a controlled return back to the starting position.

  •  The entire duration of gradual, gentle stretch should be no greater than 2 seconds.

  •  Continue repeating this same isolated muscle stretch up to 10 times, with each subsequent stretch to achieve incremental gain of a few degrees of motion without eliciting a contraction of the opposing muscle.

  • Always return the area being stretched to the starting position before continuing the prescribed repetitions. This ensures a continuous supply of blood, oxygen, lymph & nutrition, while stimulating waste removal & enforcing the neural process.

  • Exhale during the stretching phase & inhale during the recovery phase (during the return to the starting position). Oxygen is an important fuel for muscle action.

  • Monitor the stretch reflex carefully as the tissue is stretched to point of “light irritation” & then release the tension to prevent reversal contraction of the muscle-fascia being stretched.


Active Isolated Strengthening: The Mattes Method

The myofascial release & postural realignment facilitated by your Active Isolated Stretching session will reveal muscular imbalances that we need to correct if the improvements are to last.


The Mattes Method of strength training is highly specific. While it is holistic & treats the body as a unit, its primary characteristic is its capability to break down the body to treat isolated parts. There are protocols for every primary muscle of the body.


The Mattes Method of strengthening follows the training specificity principle, by identifying and resolving specific strength and functional deficits. The Mattes Method then employs full range of motion movements to contract and strengthen targeted muscles, while at the same time stretching the opposing muscles. The result is increased muscle strength, joint flexibility and balance across the joints.


What to expect from a session

  •  You remain fully clothed.

  •  You do the work while the practitioner instructs, guides and gently assists with the stretch.

  •  Assisted AIS sessions are usually longer than massage sessions. Self stretching sessions can be brief or thorough.

  •  AIS reaches deeper into your core muscles and fascia than massage.

  • The goal is to produce a noticeable improvement while teaching you how to maintain your own flexibility.

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